This is the final part in the three-part series on improving your fuel efficiency, and it’s the hardest one for people to get used to. Driving habits are something we develop at a very young age, and they are hard to break. Some people baby their cars, some push them to their limits daily, and others treat them like indestructible high-performance machines. No matter what type of car you’re driving, these habits will typically transfer with you from vehicle to vehicle. Unfortunately for many, these habits could be draining some serious coin out of your bank account. Let’s take a look at some of the habits that will cost you at the pump, and see if you’re someone who needs to rethink his/her driving habits a bit.
Doing 40 mph in a 35 mph zone isn’t going to affect your fuel efficiency. It may earn you a speeding ticket, which will still drain cash out of your pocket, but it won’t change your gas mileage. It’s not until you get into the higher speeds that you have to worry. Each vehicle reaches its peak fuel efficiency at different speeds, but in any case, mileage typically decreases over 60 mph. Any speed driven over this amount will decrease your gas mileage by as much as 33 percent. That’s not to say you need to drive way under the limit if you’re on a highway that allows 65 or 70 mph; just remember that going over that limit isn’t doing your savings account any favors.
We’ve all seen the movies where two cars pull up side-by-side at a stop light, one driver looks over at the other and guns the gas a little, dropping the challenge of a makeshift drag race. A lot of people like to relive that scene at every stop red light and stop sign they encounter throughout the day. The bad part about this is that it burns more fuel than normal acceleration. If you’re hitting the gas and your engine’s rpm goes above 4,000 you’re burning more fuel than necessary for takeoff. Each one of these times will cost you pennies. Numerous times will turn that loss from jingling change into crinkling dollar bills.
There’s an old myth that you’ll burn more fuel starting your car than you will by letting it idle for a few minutes. That may have been true with old carbureted vehicles that required a bit of priming before ignition, but with the advent of fuel injection it takes very little fuel to start your vehicle up again. Letting it idle while waiting for a short period of time is just burning up fuel that could be better used driving. Excessive stop-and-go traffic can have this same effect, but a lot of that type driving is usually beyond our control anyhow.
Even though your vehicle was built with storage compartments, a trunk, additional seating, or luggage racks, that doesn’t mean you should use these spaces for constant storage of items you don’t use daily. The more weight a vehicle is hauling, the more fuel it consumes. This is due to the additional work it needs to perform to haul that extra weight. This is true not only of automobiles but all vehicles operated by fuel-burning engines, including jets. Improve your fuel efficiency by removing golf clubs, luggage, and heavy objects that aren’t always needed.
Roll Down the Windows
The first question this may spark in several minds is, “Won’t that increase wind drag, thereby reducing my fuel efficiency?” Yes, a little, but not near as much as running your air conditioning when unnecessary. Now, there are those days where air conditioning is not only a luxury, it’s a necessity. Those are the days where the temperature needle climbs somewhere near the upper stratosphere. However, on days where the heat is bearable, roll the windows down and get yourself some fresh air. Not only will it increase your fuel efficiency, but it will cause less wear and tear on your A/C system, meaning fewer Freon charges.
The most important thing to remember is that improving your fuel efficiency is a lot more than just saving a few pennies at the gas pump. It increases the life of your vehicle, cuts down on the overuse of natural resources, and makes driving safer all the way around. And it doesn’t hurt your wallet either.